Spreading holiday cheer

LIHUE — Nothing may have been able to stop the rain from falling on Friday night, but that didn’t stop thousands of Kauai residents and visitors from ushering in the holiday season at this year’s Festival of Lights and Lights on Rice Parade.

Two of them were Koloa residents Diane Faye and Greg Hawk, who were watching the annual holiday parade on Rice Street for the first time with their sons, 3-year-old Griffin and 7-year-old Deacon.

“I was born and raised here, but I moved back about two years ago, and I’ve always wanted to come but the kids were kind of young and last year it was raining, so this year we did it,” Faye said. “The 3-year-old loves lights, so we thought this would be fun for him to watch. It’s nice to have an outdoor kind of things to really bring the community together.”

In keeping with tradition, holiday festivities kicked off around 6 p.m., when members of the Kauai Chorale sang several classic holiday songs before hundreds of people gathered in front of the Historic County Building, including “Away in a Manger,” and “Mele Kalikimaka.”

But even before any lights in and around the building were lit or any songs were sung, swarms of people throughout the day reserved their spots for the evening’s parade along sidewalks.

“We mostly came to see the lights for the kids,” said Anahola resident Debra Bonilla, who was able to find a spot near the Historic County Building to view the parade, which began around 6:30 p.m. and was led by a cadre of classic cars clad in holiday lights and garlands.

About 60 floats and 2,000 people participated in the parade, many of whom were dressed in festive attire.

Brooke Fields, Stephanie Boyers, and Martiine Nyhuis, who were visiting Kauai from Queensland, Australia, said they were pleasantly surprised to find a Christmas festival in Kauai.

“For me, I wanted to come and get into the atmosphere and really celebrate the start of the festive season,” Nyhuis said.

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